Mondays are typically difficult for me. I often find the transition from weekend family time to solitary work time challenging. Add a funeral in the family to which my brothers drove together, too far for me to feel comfortable traveling with the drain tubes still in me, yesterday was particularly hard.
Cancer no longer feels like an interesting adventure. It's beginning to feel like what it actually is, a huge imposition on my life.
In spite of the never ending saga of the drains, when I look at the mastectomy site now I'm shocked at how well and quickly I am healing. It's not a wound any more; it's simply a scar. A thin silvery-pink line across the breadth of my rib cage. Looking at it, I'm struck by painful reality: My breast is gone. Forever.
The next wave follows: and I might die. Soon.
On the bright side, "soon" does not mean hit-by-a-truck soon. It means nearly a one in three chance that I won't live to see fifty. Plenty of time to plan for departure, say my good byes, give parting gifts, and burn my most incriminating / embarrassing journals.
But bright sides and jokes aside, I'm really really angry. I do not in any way deserve this. Even if there is something in my past that accounts for this disease, like the few cigarettes I smoked in my late teens and early twenties — which the genetics counselor I saw last week suggested "might have done it," it's still not my fault. Would I have smoked cigarettes if I hadn't been desperately lonely and sad, if I could see my way to a healthier outlet for my emotions? Of course not.
We do what we can to get by, and sometimes getting by is a deceptively difficult proposition.
Speaking of outlets, healthy and otherwise, yesterday I tried the old Eat Another Handful of Peanuts and Watch Another Comedy Video diversion. But eventually my stomach was sick and the comedy was not making me laugh. So I called in the troops. J~ and three others took turns on the phone and in person, listening to me rage about the unfairness of it all and blubber about my gone-forever breast, fear of chemotherapy, and the high unlikelihood that the drains will come out today.
And then I blew my nose and walked the dog, ate a healthy dinner, watched another video and went to bed.
And that, dear friends, is how a person survives another day with cancer.